2014 MLB Preview and Rankings: #10 Detroit Tigers

Published: Apr 01, 2014 05:21am EDT
By Michael Owen, Sports Writer for Konsume Sports

Please Note: This article was updated Apr 01, 2014 @ 05:21am EDT

 

Opening Day has finally arrived and the rite of passage that comes every Spring where every team still has a chance to make "this the year" in their own mind is enough to get any fan going.

There is still a lot of work to be done for some teams, position battles, last minute signings, injury struggles coming out of camp and so on. While one of the best things about Spring  is that when the season starts, anything can happen and every team has a chance.  Unfortunately for many teams those hopes can be shattered and lost by mid-May.

As we begin playing ball, we have a pretty good idea of where each team stands and while each season is unpredictable, things can change at the drop of an Ace lefties torn rotator cuff.  

Over the next few days I'll finish out the preseason rankings and analysis of the remaining teams as we have finally gotten to the teams that will likely contend for the playoffs.  Feel free to disagree and voice your differences.

Next up:

10. Detroit Tigers

The Detroit Tigers have been to the ALCS 3 consecutive years and for each of those three consecutive years, they have come out without a World Series title.

After going 93-69 in 2013 GM Dave Dombrowski had a very busy and very productive offseason.

To start, Dombrowski had to replace his longtime skipper Jim Leyland and after a handful of interviews he settled on former Tiger catcher Brad Ausmus.  With what could have been the biggest move of the Tigers offseason, it only got louder from there as the Tigers completed the first blockbuster trade of the winter by unloading Prince Fielder (AND $30 million) to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler. While the move shocked the baseball world at the time, it was a trade that made sense for both teams

Defensively Kinsler gives the Tigers a sure glove at second, something they haven't had with consistency in several years but it also gets Miguel Cabrera, one of the worst 3rd baggers in the league, off of 3rd base and over to first base, where is is not a Gold Glover, but better than Fielder and more importantly off of third.  You did see where I mentioned that he was terrible at third, right?  This one move alone improves the Tigers infield defensively beyond measure by improving their range and having just plain old better gloves.

Offensively, this should be a solid, solid lineup. Withj Kinsler and his bat made for the gaps at Comerica Park along with Torii Hunter setting the table for Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Austin Jackson, there's the potential for a ton of runs to be scored.  Factor in some dangerous hitters like Alex Gonzales (Johny Peralta v.2), Alex Avila, Rajai Davis plus the potential of rookie Nick Castellanos at the bottom of the order and this lineup could be downright dangerous top to bottom.

What really needs to be said about the starting rotation? Although Justin Verlander had a sub-Verlander season, he was still quite effective and showed some of his old self towards the end of the season.  Offseason core muscle surgery can only help him get back to his norm of mowing down opponents. Cy young winner Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez will follow Verlander in the rotation giving the Tigers one of, if not the best top 3 of the rotation in the league. Drew Smyly will take over for Doug Fister who was traded to the Nationals in a head scratching deal that yielded a few minor parts (and ultimately Alex Gonzalez after Detroit traded Steve Lombardozzi) and a very on again, off again Rick Porcello will bring up the rear of the staff. One point of interest is how Smyly handles his conversion to being a starter after being a key member of the bullpen in 2013.

As for the bullpen, the Tigers ‘pen will likely be their biggest area of concern in 2014. After letting Joaquin Benoit leave via free agency Dombrowski overhauled the bullpen and the first thing they needed to address was to find a closer. Early on in free agency they went out and got one of the best on the market in 39 year old Joe Nathan. While Nathan has been very effective since undergoing Tommy John surgery four years ago, he did show some decline in 2013 as his walks were up and his velocity was down. Dombrowski also added oft injured Joba Chamberlin, hoping that a change of scenery will help kick start a disappointing career. Ian Krol and Evan Reed are also newcomers to the bullpen while Phil Coke, Al Alburquerque and setup man Bruce Rondon are the only holdovers from 2013.  Reed, Krol and Rondon are all under 25 and untested at the major league level and have high potential, but until they prove themselves, they’re still question marks. It wouldn’t be unfair to have the same concerns for Alburquerque who allows too many base runners and Coke who has never found the consistency to be completely counted on at the major league level.

Despite all the moves the Tigers made in the off season, it doesn’t appear as though they are really much better than last year (or the last three for that matter) and the argument could be made that they are actually worse. The revamped infield should help the pitching staff and a more rounded lineup should also be just enough to lead the Tigers to another division crown, but the question marks in the bullpen makes it hard to believe that they’ll be able to finally pick up that elusive World Series crown.

Prediction: 90-72

                                                         ***PREVIOUS RANKINGS***

                                                         (click link to view story)  

11. Arizona Diamondbacks 89-73

12. Cleveland Indians 88-74

13. Cincinnati Reds 87-75

14. Los Angeles Angels 86-76

15. San Francisco Giants 85-77

16. Pittsburgh Pirates 84-78

17. Baltimore Orioles 82-80

18. San Diego Padres 81-81

19. Kansas City Royals 81-81

20. Seattle Mariners 80-82

21. Milwaukee Brewers 78-84

22. Philadelphia Phillies 76-86

23. New York Mets 75-87

24 Colorado Rockies 74-88

25. Toronto Blue Jays 71-91

26. Chicago Cubs  70-92

27. Minnesota Twins 67-95

28. Chicago White Sox 66-96

29. Miami Marlins 64-98

30. Houston Astros 62-100

 

 


 

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